Leadership & Strategy | January 30, 2017

New Year, New (Marketing) Goals

Hello everyone, this is Stephen and Marc from XXIIBrands, and this is our latest installment of xTalks. Today, we’re going to be talking about goal setting for your marketing dollars and marketing efforts in the new year.

We get asked by a lot of clients and non-clients alike, “What do we need to be doing differently or what do we need to be doing period, going into 2017?” We want to talk about three ways that you can start getting your head wrapped around what you need to be doing, especially in the context of how technology is changing and how people are reaching new audiences and new markets as things kind of progress.

To start us off, we want to challenge y’all to look for quick wins in creating engaging and informative content. Let’s talk about that a little bit, because that utilizes video and your own written word. What would be the first way that people can start getting their minds right with, “Okay, let’s plan this out. Let’s do it.”

Marc: When we talk to people about creating content, it can be an overwhelming thought process. “I don’t have the technology. I don’t have the production skills. I don’t have anything to say or things to talk about.” I think we take for granted the things that we know in our specific industry. Whatever business you might be in, you know more about it (because it’s what you do) than your customers ever will. Many times it’s the questions you answer on a day to day basis that make up the best content. Addressing those frequently asked questions often falls on the front line. Understanding those FAQ’s, even thing things the customer doesn’t ask but you wish they would, helps you differentiate your company and help clients understand how to make a better decision.

Where is my audience? Who is my audience? Who’s most likely to buy from me and what are those questions I need to answer for them to understand? The quick wins often come from just using the technology that’s in your pocket. Today’s technology is more readily available and it’s better than anything we’ve had in a long time. As an example, we’re actually shooting this on iPhone, because it’s what most people are carrying, whether you’re an Android or iPhone user or whatever it is; the smartphone is in your pocket. Just get started.

Stephen: Let’s talk about measuring what activity your content caused. What is the importance of me utilizing that analytics?

Marc: Analytics is one of those things that can get overwhelming as well. There’s so much data, information, and details that you can get into. Look for moments of clarity and know what you’re after. Are you looking for likes? Are you looking to create sharable content? Who care if anyone likes it, shares it, etc. You’re just trying to create content and get in the rhythm; you have to start somewhere. We say this all the time, “If you’re a small or medium sized business, don’t kid yourself and get frustrated if you are not gaining a lot of traffic yet. Don’t give up.”

You’re not going to be Starbucks tomorrow. You’re not going to have a million engaged fans and that’s okay. The truth is that it builds on itself, and as you create content you learn how to harness that content. You set goals. You’re looking for reaching new audiences even if you don’t have data from the past. Look for places where the platforms will allow you to advertise in very small ways. $5, $7, $10, $20 at a time, and think about your audience so that you can say, “I have a goal. I want to reach this kind of person, with this kind of media buying habit or this kind of consumer-goods habit, or whatever the case is. They’re in this demographic and they live in this zip code; that’s my target audience. And I want to see if I can expose this content to them enough that they react to it in some way. They like it. They share it.”

Of course, the end result is revenue. We’re always looking for revenue, but you’re not going to hit the jackpot every time. It’s a process of learning the platform and understanding the data at it’s very highest levels. Did anyone react? What was it that caused them to react? What kind of reaction and how can I parlay that into my next piece of content? How can I make it interesting? Then what kind of budget do I need to apply to get more traction on it.

If you’ve been in business for a little while, you probably have some patterns that you can look at. If they worked offline there’s a good chance that there’s a way to digitize it and make that experience relatable with social platforms that are there today.

Stephen: Let’s talk about setting marketing budgets. One of the things we hear a lot from clients and non clients alike is,  “What’s this going to cost?

Marc: It’s a very obvious question, but the way I try to approach it would be to first set revenue growth goals. I’ve seen people spend as much as 15-20% of their revenue. I wouldn’t recommend that, because that’s usually an indicator that things aren’t going well. I’ve also seen people say, “Wow, we never spend anything on marketing.” If you’re not getting the results you want, you’re probably spending too much or too little.

Our recommendation is typically 5-10% of revenue, and it definitely depends on where you’ve been advertising up to this point. I try to tell people that if you get really effective at it, you’re good at tracking, and you’re good at your tuning, you could find yourself in the 3-5% range. If you’re a 100 million dollar business, that’s a lot of zeros, right?

If you’re a small business, especially when you’re just starting out, any dollar that going out feels like dollars leaving your pocket. Know where to maximize your dollar and how to make safe mistakes. Experiment in small chunks instead of throwing a bunch of money at one thing and thinking it’s a silver bullet.

That’s probably the mistake that we’ve seen the most with clients. They either shotgun everything but never know if it worked. Or, they got all gung hoo on one thing, put all their eggs in that basket and nothing came of it. Now, they’re nervous to try anything.

The reality is it needs to be a blend and it needs to be trackable. You got to find two or three things that are really centered around who you’re after and where they are and look for safe places to fail.

Stephen: The key here is to understand that things are always changing in the digital world. We have to continually remeasure, retool, reanalyze to maintain a strong digital presence.

Marc: In this industry, there’s a healthy skepticism of marketing in general. Historically there’s a separation between results and accountability, ideas and creativity. Where people get most uncomfortable is the cost, energy, and time it takes to figure out if it will lead to any tangible results.

When we can take a neutral position and start to help the customer work through getting comfortable with the budget, it’s really less about the part we take, the great ideas we have, and more about accountability. We don’t pretend to know it all, but we’re willing to be transparent about how to measure and how to create results with the client. The fact of the matter is, it’s a partnership.  We’re not doing things for them, or to them, but rather with them.

We’re not just asking you to make big bets around these lofty creative ideas and just kind of spit balling. We’re also not saying, “We’re going to go door knock and go create sales pitches for you.” It needs to be somewhere in the connection, the glue between the marketing and the sectors.

Stephen: So to recap. Look for quick ways to win through creating content. Figure out a way to measure the heck out of the content you create. Utilize the data coming in and learn from it. Allow it to sharpen your strategy. Set a marketing budget and clear expectations. Now let’s get to creating in the new year.

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